Myanmar farmers can now apply organic certificates at township agricultural departments

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The agriculture sector of Myanmar is one of the most important sectors for the country’s economy; agricultural goods are Myanmar’s second largest export commodity.  The agriculture sector contributes 38% of GDP, accounts for 20 to 30% of total export earnings and employs more than 70% of the workforce.  12.8 million hectares out of 67.6 million hectares of land in Myanmar are cultivated land.

Rice is the country’s primary agricultural product, which accounts for nearly 43% of the total agricultural production value.  In Myanmar, 70% of the country’s population live in rural areas and their livelihood drives the agriculture sector as an important growth engine of rural development.

Although Organic farming is strongly encouraged by the GOM,most of Myanmar farmers like chemical fertilizers,which offer quicker results and more opportunities to harvest in short term. As a result,Myanmar imports about 80% of chemical fertilizers from China and Thailand, estimated at between 1.2 and 1.4 million tons per annum.So Myanmar need to reduce importing of chemical fertilizers by replacing organic farming,which can promote the value of the crops and the quality of agricultural exports.In addition, organic farming can protect the soil damange and the health of farmers in long-term.

So, Myanmar also needs to rethink its agricultural strategy if it wants to be a successful agricultural export nation. Past farming policy also needs to be reviewed in light of today’s challenges and tomorrow’s possibilities.Moreover,the agriculture department will need to educate farmers the benefits of organic farming more and more in future.

The Global New light of Myanmar released a news on January 29  that farmers can now apply for organic certification for their produce at township agriculture departments in Myanmar, according to the Hlegu Township Vegetable and Fruit Research and Development Centre (VFRDC). It is a good news for organic farming in Myanmar.

According to the news,U Hla Myint Aung,the deputy Director-General of the Agriculture Department said that the country already has organic growers. They will issue organic certificates to local farmers. So, local farmers can start applying for them.Their agriculture departments will implement the processes involved, step by step.They have formed inspections teams at the region and state agriculture departments. They will make field inspections and issue the certificates. Now,they  are making arrangements to establish six criteria that growers will have to meet to get organic certification.

With the organic certification, the Agriculture Department can guarantee agricultural products that meet its criteria are chemical-free and safe for consumption.

“As we are using more chemicals in our society today, the residues from chemical fertilizers are having a negative impact on the health of the humans. But the production cost is higher for organic crops. So it is important that there is a strong market that offers good prices for organic products. Then, local farmers will also be happy to plant organic crops. At present, there are organic foodstuffs and retail shops like City Mart that sell organic vegetables and fruits. So, consumers must trust those shops and buy their products,” he said in the news.

Currently, the department is laying down the process for organic certification. The department will form a national committee, which will establish a certification body to issue the certificates. The process will take for over four months. Local farmers and private organizations can apply for organic certificates at agriculture departments in the area.

In the news,U Myint Oo,an organic farmer from Hlegu Township,said that his organic crops have already penetrated the Yangon market. But he still don’t have the certification. So, he cannot sell them as organic products in the market.

The market for premium organic vegetables and fruits are still small here in Myanmar. But,it will boom in the near future in line with the easy of getting the organic certificates for organic farmers.

Ref:MNA

Photos:MNA/winrock international

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